Elliot Page is on this week’s cover of TIME and gives his first interview since coming out as a transgender man at the end of 2020. Elliot talks about wanting to be a boy since he was a kid, how difficult it was having to present as a feminine actress, and how the world’s reaction to his announcement was a lot. He also discusses trans rights, his platform and privilege, and how getting top surgery “completely transformed” his life.
34-year-old Elliot says that, as a child, he felt like a boy and would ask his mom if he could be one someday. At age 9 he was finally allowed to get his hair cut short, and “strangers finally started perceiving him the way he saw himself, and it felt both right and exciting.” But a few months later Elliot got his first role as the daughter in the Canadian TV movie Pit Pony and had to wear a wig. After that, he grew his hair out again:
“I became a professional actor at the age of 10,” Page says. And pursuing that passion came with a difficult compromise. “Of course I had to look a certain way.”
When Elliot was 21 he became a celebrity after starring in Juno, and he struggled:
The endless primping, red carpets and magazine spreads were all agonizing reminders of the disconnect between how the world saw Page and who he knew himself to be. “I just never recognized myself,” Page says. “For a long time I could not even look at a photo of myself.” It was difficult to watch the movies too, especially ones in which he played more feminine roles.
By the time he was starring in movies like X-Men: The Last Stand and Inception, he was dealing with anxiety, depression, and panic attacks. Elliot’s friend Alia Shawkat says:
“He had a really hard time with the press and expectations,” Shawkat says. “‘Put this on! And look this way! And this is sexy!’”
“I’d be like, ‘Hey, look at all these nice outfits you’re getting,’ and he would say, ‘It’s not me. It feels like a costume.”
After Elliot came out as gay in 2014, he began wearing suits on the red carpet, and made a masculine wardrobe a condition of taking roles:
“The difference in how I felt before coming out as gay to after was massive,” says Page. “But did the discomfort in my body ever go away? No, no, no, no.”
Elliot says it was partly the isolation of the pandemic that made him confront his gender. He and his wife, Emma Portner, separated last summer (Elliot says they’ve remained close friends), and suddenly he had a lot of time to focus on things he was avoiding. He says he was inspired by trans icons like Janet Mock and Laverne Cox and trans writers:
Eventually “shame and discomfort” gave way to revelation. “I was finally able to embrace being transgender,” Page says, “and letting myself fully become who I am.”
This led to a series of decisions, including asking people to call him Elliot (he liked it partly because of E.T.) and use different pronouns. He says he/him or they/them are fine, but when asked by TIME which he’d prefer for the story, he says, “He/him is great.” He repeatedly refers to himself as a “transgender guy” during the interview:
He also calls himself nonbinary and queer, but for him, transmasculinity is at the center of the conversation right now. “It’s a complicated journey,” he says, “and an ongoing process.”
He also talked about his top surgery:
Page describes surgery as something that, for him, has made it possible to finally recognize himself when he looks in the mirror, providing catharsis he’s been waiting for since the “total hell” of puberty. “It has completely transformed my life,” he says. So much of his energy was spent on being uncomfortable in his body, he says. Now he has that energy back.
Elliot goes on to discuss trans rights, politics, and the lack of representation (especially for trans men). As someone who’s white, rich, and famous, he wants to advocate for less privileged transgender people. The political attacks on trans people (like birth-sex bathrooms, bans on medical interventions for trans kids, that J.K. Rowling TERF shit, or the suggestion that trans men are just women who want male privilege) are all about propagating this idea that trans people are mistaken about who they are:
“We know who we are,” Page says. “People cling to these firm ideas [about gender] because it makes people feel safe. But if we could just celebrate all the wonderful complexities of people, the world would be such a better place.”
Elliot says he expected “a lot of support and love and a massive amount of hatred and transphobia” when he came out. And that’s exactly what happened. But it was bigger than he ever imagined. Casting directors reached out to Elliot’s manager and said they’d like to cast him in their movies, and there are also director and producer opportunities. Many of the acting offers are trans-related, but Elliot says there are also “dude roles.” He says he’s really excited to act now that he’s fully himself.
Well, congrats to Elliot! He posted about the article on social media, and here are some more pics from the photoshoot:
With deep respect for those who came before me, gratitude for those who have supported me & great concern for the generation of trans youth we must all protect, please join me and decry anti-trans legislation, hate & discrimination in all its forms. pic.twitter.com/5yr8TYywTn
— Elliot Page (@TheElliotPage) March 16, 2021
Elliot Page covers the latest issue of Time Magazine. pic.twitter.com/9SeIGVBaPz
— Film Updates (@TheFilmUpdates) March 16, 2021
Oooo, loving Elliot’s James Dean-esque smolder/white tee n’ jeans combo. All he’s missing is a ciggie.